Ian Churchill will be drawing interiors for August's Wonder Woman #43, as writer Meredith Finch focuses more on Donna Troy's redemption after last month's cliffhanger saw the former Wonder Girl freed by the god Strife.
And despite Wonder Woman's ongoing challenges, the regular creative team of Meredith and David Finch intend to emphasize that Diana can have fun — although they warned that there's a "real heartbreak" coming in issue #45.
Ever since the married creative duo of David and Meredith Finch took over the book with issue #35, the pair has been busy introducing revamped characters, from the much anticipated return of Donna Troy to the recent retooling of the Pegasus-riding villain Aegeus.
The two also significantly changed Wonder Woman's costume — something Meredith told Newsarama last month was an effort to improve on the character's former "bathing suit" costume.
As the Churchill-drawn issue #43 promises a spotlight for Donna Troy and her road to redemption, Newsarama talked to both Finches to find out more about David's design of the new costume, what's coming up next — and how there's another villain behind the scenes of this storyline, besides just Aegeus and Strife.
Newsarama: Meredith and David, the end of the last issue revealed that Strife is behind many of the troubles Diana is facing right now. What interested you about this villain and made you want to use her? And anything you want to tell us about her motivation?
Meredith Finch: She seemed like the obvious character to go after Diana right now. She would have been the closest to Ares, because they're basically two parts of the same puzzle. So it made sense that she would go after Diana.
I think people will be surprised at the ending. I don't want to give away too much. But I think people will be surprised when they find out who is actually behind the pull.
Nrama: Ah, so there might be more to it than just Strife making trouble.
Meredith: There's more to it than just Strife. But it's fun to play with the obvious right now.
Nrama: And it makes the most sense when you look at Diana as the new "god of war." When you started your run, you were addressing all the different hats that Diana wears, and how she balances those thing, but it seems like this story comes at her from the aspect of, OK, you're the god of war, and this is what comes with it. Right?
Meredith: It's what comes with it, and are you actually fulfilling the job in the way you should be fulfilling it.
People always question — whatever job you do, you have a boss, or you have somebody who's judging whether you're doing a good job at your job.
So we thought it would fun… OK, she's accepted the fact that she's the god of war, and just when she feels like, hey, I've settled in and found some balance, maybe somebody else doesn't think that she has.
Nrama: We talked briefly last month about Aegeus. But can you tell us why you chose him to kick off the story and be Wonder Woman's initial nemesis?
Meredith: We knew we wanted to bring someone from her rogues’ gallery into this next arc and start to flesh that out. And I really left it up to David, because I didn't care. I didn't have an attachment to any of the villains in her past.
So I said to Dave, who would be the coolest for you to draw? And I let him make the decision, and we worked the story from that.
Nrama: Ah, so it was you, David. Why Aegeus?
David: I really wanted a villain that didn't have a lot of baggage already. And that allowed Meredith to create his backstory.
In a sense, he's kind of an original villain, even though he existed before. We really wanted to do something different and new.
The time will come when we have more rogues from her gallery come in, but right now, we have more of a gods story that we wanted to tell.
Nrama: Meredith, we discussed last month your feelings about getting rid of what you called the bathing suit costume. But David, we haven't had a chance to really talk about the evolution of this costume visually. I know there have been some sketches released, showing that you had more than one idea. Now that you're drawing this version, do you feel good about it? Do you think it's going to evolve? What are your thoughts about it?
David: As far as drawing it right now goes, I actually feel really good about. I've definitely designed costumes in the past that have been a major pain in the butt to draw.
So with Diana's costume, I really wanted it to be something that's really superhero-y. It's really not, actually, the kind of costume I would traditionally design. I always like little tiny detail, but it's just not something I can do page in and page out.
I think I'm a little more interested in a broader, graphic silhouette than I probably have been in the past. I'm actually really happy with it.
When we were coming up with the new costume, I had no pre-conception of what I wanted to do. Meredith and I talked about it a lot. Between the two of us, we kind of had an idea of what we wanted. I don't really know that the sketches I was doing was really bringing across what Meredith wanted or even what I wanted. And it just took some triangulation.
The minute I finished the one we ultimately used, Meredith liked it right away. I think I actually wasn't sure, but the more I looked at it, it had the elements we were looking for, and when we turned it in, it got approved right to the top really fast, which is relatively rare.
You can tell when something works, when you don't face a lot of resistance internally.
Nrama: Let's talk about Donna Troy. Last we saw her, she was in this prison on Mount Olympus, and Wonder Woman had challenged her to think about her future, if she was even going to have a future. At the end of this issue, things changed quite a bit as Strife got involved. Is she going to be a big part of this conflict?
Meredith: She is going to be a part of the story, but she's also going to have her own story for a little bit too.
I think Dave and I both felt like issue #43, from a visual point of view, and from a storytelling point of view, is where everything really takes off for Donna.
We're really happy with what we've come up with, and I think people are going to be really excited and invested in her, and her struggle for redemption, and the people who help her in that struggle — either deliberately, or accidentally.
David: And Ian Churchill — we have to mention Ian. He did a beautiful job.
It kills me that I can't draw every single issue. I wish I was a little bit faster. There are times that it just gets a little overwhelming.
But when DC mentioned that Ian might be available to do it, I was shocked. I didn't think that we would get that lucky. And he's done an incredible job. I'm looking forward to it coming out.
Nrama: Let's talk about your approach. In this past issue, you kicked off the story with images of Diana dancing. It was a really different point of view for readers to view Diana. What was your thinking, Meredith, as you put that in the story?
Meredith: Dave and I both, we really want this to be a fun comic to read.
And we want the character to be fun too. We've done a lot of heavy stuff, but there is always a time to say, OK, she does get to have fun. She does get to just be a girl, or a woman, and hang with her friends.
I always try to come at that from the angle of, what would I do in my life if I was a single woman and had a really high stress job? What were the ways that I would use to decompress and be myself?
David: And Meredith would knock a guy onto the floor. [Laughs.]
Nrama: Hey, if he's going to act like that guy did [in issue #42], I think we'd all want to throw him on the floor.
Meredith: I would totally do that. I might even say, "Hiya!" My parents both have black belts in karate, so I'm sure I picked up a move or two on the way.
Nrama: I've got to go out with you! OK, let's talk about what's coming up. Issue #43 sounds like it's concentrated on Donna quite a bit. What can readers expect from the next few issues as this storyline continues?
Meredith: They can expect more highs and lows — there's a real heartbreak in issue #45 for some people.
We're going to introduce another new character, which I think Dave and editorial both fell in love with right from the start. She's going to be coming in to issue #43, briefly, and the she'll be part of issue #44, which David drew. And she's going to play a pivotal role in Donna's redemption and driving the story forward.